Nisky adopts $75M school budget in 5-2 vote

More than 3 percent tax levy increase within cap, around 80 positions cut

— Board members Debra Gordon and Barbara Mauro voted against the budget and said they’d prefer to exceed the state mandated tax levy threshold of 3.29 percent to offer district voters a chance to support a fuller program.

“I said last year that this was awful; I never dreamt that this would be worse but it was,” Gordon said. “There hasn’t been a week that has gone by, a night that has gone by, where I haven’t thought about this budget.”

Gordon said she is looking at the budget as “more than a financial position” and is considering the school services and effect on the community. She said residents have been active in discussions and it was only fitting to then allow them the opportunity to exceed the tax levy limit.

If the district had put a budget exceeding the tax cap to voters it would need to pass by at least 60 percent, instead of by a simple majority.

Mauro said once state aid came in lower than the projected amount, increasing the budget gap by about $300,000, she started to “seriously consider” letting the public decide whether or not to exceed the cap.

“People do have varied opinions about this, but everybody I have talked to knows it is an impact,” Mauro said. “The decision I think we have is just how far to go. … At what point do we give voters an opportunity to weigh in?”

Fellow board member David Hudson said the state mandated tax cap has changed how the district develops the budget.

“For several months our efforts have been focused on the tax levy threshold of 3.29 percent, a number we certainly would not have suggested in any other year,” Hudson said.

He also said traditionally if the community voted down the budget, it was because it was too much of an increase, but now he isn’t sure if the vote represents a feeling the budget is too high or too low.

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